Bequest a boon for BERG work

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Besides the boardwalk: A walk along the boardwalk running alongside Balcombe Estuary through to The Briars historic property, Mt Martha, takes in several different habitats for animals, reptiles and birds. In one recent 90-minute stroll photographer Gary Sissons came across, clockwise from top left, a rufous whistler, a family of possums checking out the daylight, a fantailed cuckoo, yellow robin, golden whistler and cygnets hatched by black swans at The Briars wetland. Details of the estuary and a map are at www.berg.org.au/

Besides the boardwalk: A walk along the boardwalk running alongside Balcombe Estuary through to The Briars historic property, Mt Martha, takes in several different habitats for animals, reptiles and birds. In one recent 90-minute stroll photographer Gary Sissons came across, clockwise from top left, a rufous whistler, a family of possums checking out the daylight, a fantailed cuckoo, yellow robin, golden whistler and cygnets hatched by black swans at The Briars wetland. Details of the estuary and a map are at www.berg.org.au

BERG Mt Martha president Graham Hubbard is applauding the funding successes achieved by the conservation group’s philanthropy members Bronwyn Street and Bev Fryer.

Their aim is to generate money from new sources for the Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group, which was formed in 1997 to preserve and restore bushland around the Balcombe Estuary at Mt Martha.

“The committee thought it might be possible to raise $50,000 a year through the group, which would make a great difference to our ability to restore the reserves,” Mr Hubbard told the annual meeting.

In May it received $15,000 from the Sally Oatley Memorial Fund, a sub-fund of Australian Communities Foundation, which allowed members to start work on the north bank of the Reserves/Maude St project.

A further $3000 was given by members before June after an unsuccessful application for money from the Ross Trust.

Mr Hubbard said an anonymous donor had offered up to $50,000 in matching funds for on-ground work if Berg could raise a similar amount.

Bronwyn and David Street donated $10,000 which, through matching, brought in $20,000. Alice Opper donated $2000 which was also matched.

Last week the group had two more surprises: its application to the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for $30,000 was accepted, and then it received a separate anonymous donation of $3000 – with the original anonymous donor agreeing to match both of these amounts.

“This makes a total of $108,000 which this philanthropy initiative has raised this year,” Mr Hubbard said.

“This is truly a fantastic outcome and will be sufficient to complete the north bank of the Reserves/Maude St project over the three-year period of our plan.  Congratulations (and thanks) to Bronwyn and Bev for their work in generating such enthusiastic support for our work.

“As always, we will watch our spending closely on this project and we have to report to our grantors on our outcomes. This indicates that, by looking more widely, we can access other sources of funds which help to speed up the restoration of the reserves.”

Mr Hubbard said $5000 of the original anonymous donor’s matching funds were still available to be matched. Potential donors can call Ms Street on 0447 160 288, or see contact details on BERG Mt Martha’s website.

The success of the project means Berg will be on the lookout next year for other trusts and funds to attract funding from new sources.

“What a great way for our year to end,” Mr Hubbard said.

First published in the Mornington News – 6 December 2016

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